CAPE TOWN – While Saait Magiet has rightly been feted as a superb all-rounder in cricket, he was an “outstanding” rugby player too, says one of his former teammates.
Fagmie Solomons is perhaps the opposite of Saait Magiet, who passed away on Tuesday due to a heart attack.
Magiet, 66, was on holiday in Malaysia with his wife Nazli.
Solomons was renowned for his brilliant rugby ability as a flyhalf and scrumhalf, and captained the non-racial Saru team in the 1980s, but he was also a top-order batsman for the Western Province cricket side.
Magiet, on the other hand, was better known for his exploits on the cricket pitch, but he was a quality rugby player as well, says Solomons.
Magiet was a stalwart of the City and Suburban Rugby Football Union (Cities) and Primrose Rugby Club.
“As a rugby player, he led through his actions, with his play, his vision. His foresight and his body,” Solomons told IOL Sport.
“He was outstanding as a tackler and ball-carrier. I mean, they talk about skills and flair – there was a No 8 who could play centre or in the backline.
“He was very skilful. Obviously he couldn’t kick the ball, but he had foresight. I played rugby with him in 1981 when we won the Top 8 competition – I played for Primrose that one season.
“But what an outstanding player. Against Western Province (Green Point), when he played for Cities, he stood alone!
“You know the hiding we used to give them, but he never stood back. He came to you, and was outstanding in all aspects as a player. He was one of a kind in a millennium.”
One of the mysteries of the non-racial rugby world during apartheid was the fact that Magiet was not awarded a Saru cap.
Solomons explains: “Where Saait is concerned, Saait has been the top cricket and rugby player in my era. He was the most unfortunate guy not to be awarded Saru colours.
“I’m honest with you now: during the early 80s, Saru was very religiously separated. In other words, in that era, for those five years, WP Green Point was not (favourably looked upon).
“In the early 70s, when Salie Fredericks and them played, it was (all about) Western Province. It shifted from there when Tygerberg entered, from 1972 – when they came over (after splitting from the Northerns Rugby Federation).
“Obviously they wanted to honour Piet Jooste and them also. So, that was the kind of environment we had to deal with.”
My Hero, Icon and childhood hero May you RIP. Fond memories in conversation and either Rugby or cricket arena. I salute you Saait Magiet true Legend 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/fVynm1snf7
Solomons also waxed lyrical about Magiet’s ability with bat and ball. While fondly remembered as an opening bowler who could swing the ball and hard-hitting batsman, Magiet was quite adept as a close-in fielder too.
“If we as Western Province fell down for three or four wickets for little runs, then he could come in and hit the guys from ball one. He batted at number five and number six, and he could destroy any bowling attack on his own,” Solomons said.
“And as a fielder close to the wicket, gully or short leg – I was short leg and he was also a short leg – I mean, unbelievable. No ball would go past him. So, he had those reflexes as a close-in fielder.
“Saait was one of those swing bowlers and he had speed. It wasn’t like in the middle of the pitch – he could nip the ball from here in front of you right up to your face… Bounce and swing.
“Seriously, he was one of those who would’ve just walked into any South African team as a batsman, bowler and fielder. Fabulous all-rounder.
Rip Saait Magiet , thank you for paving the way for us to express our talents out on fields we now play on. It was a pleasure meeting you. Rest well legend!
“I was very fortunate to play alongside him from 1978, and we won all the trophies as the Western Province senior team. I quit in 1985, and Faiek Davids actually came into my spot when I opened my sports shop.
“Saait was just outstanding on the cricket field, and you can think from 1978 to 1985 – he was top-class.”